Over the years, we have been fortunate to see world-class performances at the Britt Festival: Smokey Robinson, Steve Martin, Moody Blues, Doobie Brothers, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Kenny Loggins, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, ZZ Top, Judy Collins, Earth, Wind & Fire, Three Dog Night, Huey Lewis, Heart, The Temptations, Peter Frampton, Boy George, Jackson Browne, Cyndi Lauper, Gladys Night, Beach Boys, Joan Baez, the Britt Orchestra, and my favorite, Chicago!
This all started back in 1963 when Portland conductor John Trudeau and his friend, Sam McKinney, visited Southern Oregon with the dream of starting a classical music festival. They visited the former hillside estate of Jacksonville pioneer Peter Britt and found the amazing resonance to the hillside acoustics combined with a gorgeous view of the valley provided the perfect location, and the Britt Festival was born! Today Britt has a seating capacity of 2,200 with 962 reserved seats. Local wines and beers are served—and with the new food court, Britt now offers great food by local restaurants.
Each season 60,000 to 64,000 people attend an average of 40 concerts. The audience is 80% local, from Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass and Klamath Falls with 20% traveling from afar. Hotel rooms fill up, stores increase their sales and restaurants are all abuzz.
WillowCreek Gifts’ former owner, Jo Parker, found that “Britt brings people into town that wouldn’t otherwise be here. They window shop the night of the concert and return the next morning to buy.”
Christian Hamilton, co-owner of the Bella Union Restaurant & Saloon says, “Beyond what the Britt Festival does for our small town financially, it’s the incredible energy that an evening concert brings to our town. Being a business owner in Jacksonville during the summer months is simply more fun because of the Britt concerts.”
Here at Expert Properties, we see demand increase exponentially on our Jacksonville Cottage nightly rentals, with many concertgoers staying not just for a night but for a few days to enjoy all Jacksonville and the Applegate Valley has to offer.
There is an incredible energy in the air when our small-town swells, restaurants are lively, and sidewalks fill with excited concertgoers headed up the hill. Jacksonville is electrifying on a Britt night. We remember when Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry preformed as the Hollywood Vampires; you could just feel the excitement in the air.
When we are not going to a Britt, we gather with friends and host a BBQ in our front yard, enjoy the excitement of the concertgoers walking by on their way up the hill, then again as they pour down the hill, singing songs from the concert after a few glasses of wine.
When we do go to a Britt Concert, and we often do, we dine at one of our great local restaurants, pick up a pizza from Bella, a Britt Box, or choose from one of the many food choices on the hill. We walk up early and enjoy the pre-concert festivities. There are local artists that perform on the wine garden stage, wine tasting and food pairings on the hospitality deck, and great food offered at the food court, all of which make great places to visit with friends.
After a great concert we walk down to the Bella, or a local pub for more live music. These evenings are truly magical.
All this in our little town—like publisher Whitman Parker says, in our “Small town, with big atmosphere.”